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SELF-DRIVE HOLIDAYS

Self-driving trips provide great flexibility and are generally cheaper than organized tours. Long self-drive trips in Southern and East Africa require careful planning but also an understanding that roads and driving habits are not always the same as in other parts of the world. A wide range of cars, camper vans and off-road vehicles are generally available although this may vary from country to country. Some tourists combine regional flights with self-drive safaris to limit the amount of time travelling long distances.

Self-driving trips provide great flexibility and independence. Long self-drive trips in Southern and East Africa require careful planning and an understanding that roads and driving habits are not always the same as in other parts of the world.

A wide range of cars, camper vans and off-road vehicles are available although this varies significantly from country to country. Some visitors combine regional flights with self drive safaris to limit the amount of time spent travelling long distances.

Many visitors undertake self-drive trips from Cape Town in South Africa and travel along the Garden Route. Others may head inland to the Cape Winelands and some might do both. Another popular self-drive trip in South Africa is to fly to the renowned Kruger National Park and then rent a vehicle to tour the nearby Panoramic Route before enjoying a visit to one of the many outstanding safari lodges both inside and outside the Park.

The more independent and/or budget conscience may choose to drive themselves through the Kruger National Park. This park has both tar and well maintained gravel roads, ample accommodation and is well staffed so in the event of a breakdown help is usually quickly at hand.

The main roads in Botswana and Namibia are also in good condition and self drive trips to Etosha National Park in Namibia are popular.

Driving after dark is not recommended anywhere, particularly in rural areas where the roads are unfenced and animals, both wild and domestic, freely roam the roads.

Adventurous self-drive visitors explore Botswana’s game reserves but this usually requires a degree of off-road and 4×4 driving experience.  Some parks are remote and have only very sandy or rough roads. In many areas visitors have to carry their own food, fuel, camping equipment and sometimes, water. Vehicle breakdowns may result in being stranded at the side of the road for many hours before another vehicle passes by.

Off-road vehicle rental companies usually provide comprehensive details as to what visitors require in terms of food and water and are also happy to offer advice on routes. Although some visitors are daunted by the challenges involved in off-road driving the rewards of being alone in wild places usually outweigh the concerns.

Self-drive trips are a little more difficult in East Africa as the roads are generally not as good as in South Africa and many game parks are remote. Due to poor roads off-road vehicles are usually recommended in these areas. There are a number of good off-road rental companies in Dar es Salaam and Arusha in Tanzania and Nairobi in Kenya.

Most major car rental companies are represented in the cities of the region and can offer local advice.

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